Thursday, February 15, 2018

Call Your Representative and Senators. Tell them to support The Stop School Violence Act, HR 4909

January 30, 2018

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is supporting the STOP School Violence Act, HR 4909, to create new federal funding that will bring efforts like our Know the Signs programs to schools across the country, so students and adults know how to spot and report warning signs of gun violence before a tragedy occurs. Help us pass this important bill by taking action today!

What is the STOP School Violence Act?

The STOP School Violence Act will give our states the funding they need to bring life-saving violence prevention programs to schools. It will help train millions more students, teachers, and adults to prevent violence and suicide in our schools BEFORE it happens. The STOP School Violence Act invests $50 million in federal funding each year to:

-Train school personnel, local law enforcement, and students to identify warning signs and intervene to stop interpersonal violence and suicide

-Develop and implement anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence in coordination with local law enforcement

-Train and operate school threat assessment and intervention teams to preemptively triage threats before tragedy hits

-Enable better coordination between schools and local law enforcement

How Can I Help?

We need to build support for this important legislation! You can help SHP pass the STOP School Violence Act by calling your representatives now and asking them to cosponsor the STOP School Violence Act to protect more children from gun violence.

Dial 202-224-3121, press 2 for the House and type in your ZIP code to get connected to your member's office.

Dial 202-224-3121, press 1 for the Senate and type in your ZIP code to get connected to your senators' offices. Remember, we have two senators. Be sure to call them both!

Here's a script you can follow:

First say your name and that you're a constituent. Then tell your representative's staff person that you urge the congress person to pass HR 4909, the STOP School Violence Act, because too few of our schools and law enforcement have access to evidence-based strategies to prevent youth violence. Mention that school violence can be prevented when schools and law enforcement have the tools to identify, intervene, and help individuals who display at-risk behaviors. That's it!

The STOP School Violence Act Our Challenge:

Each year there are hundreds of thousands of acts of youth violence, including assault, bullying, suicide and homicide, in our schools. In a majority of these acts, youth display warning signs or signals before taking any action.

Unfortunately, the youth and adults who observe these signs or signals do not always recognize what they are seeing or do not report what they observed. Eighty percent of school shooters tell someone of their plans (69% tell more than one person)* and 70% of those who complete suicide tell someone of their plans or give another warning sign.**

Through training about these warning signs and better coordination with law enforcement, we have a real opportunity to STOP school violence before it happens.

Federal Response:

Following tragedies like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, the federal government has funded short-term school safety initiatives focused on crisis response, active shooters, and physical infrastructure.

While these are important investments, we have not yet seen sustained strategies to curb youth violence or STOP suicides and violence in our schools before they happen. Our students, educators, and local law enforcement need the tools and support to take proactive and continuous steps towards improving school safety.

STOP School Violence Act:

The “Student, Teachers, and Officers Preventing” School Violence Act, known as the STOP School Violence Act, is a fully offset bill that reauthorizes and amends the 2001-2009 bipartisan Secure Our Schools Act to offer Department of Justice grants to states to help our schools implement proven, evidence-based programs that STOP violence before it happens.

The STOP School Violence Act would

• Through DOJ: Authorizes the Bureau of Justice Assistance to make grants to states for training and technical assistance to stop school violence, aimed at the entire youth ecosystem: local law enforcement, school resource officers, school personnel, parents/legal guardians, and students

• State-based Grants: Permits grants to fund evidence-based strategies and programs for:

1. Train everyone in the school ecosystem - school personnel, SROs, and students - to identify and intervene to stop dangerous, violent or unlawful activities

2. Coordination with local law enforcement to implement anonymous reporting systems for threats of school violence

3. Development and operation of school threat assessment and intervention teams

4. Coordination with local law enforcement.

• Using Existing Funding: Authorizes $50 million dollars for grants, fully offset by directing existing funding from the NIJ Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI) research and pilot program into this legislation, shifting the CSSI program from pilot projects into the next phase of full school implementation.

*Vossekuil, B., Fein, R.,Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzelski, W. , The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications for the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States. US Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools Programs and U.S. Secret Services, National Threat Assessment Center, Washington, D.C., 2002.

**Robins E, Murphy GE, Wilkinson RHJr, Gassner S, Kayes J. (1959). Some clinical considerations in the prevention of suicide based on a study of 134 successful suicides. American Journal of Public Health, 49: 888-899.

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